Mental Health Agencies Need Temporary Tax Increase Permanent - Or Else

WTVO/WQRF - May is Mental Health Awareness Month and many agencies say if the temporary income tax isn't made permanent, there'll be consequences.

We're talking about at least 35,000 people that will not be able to access services.   The clock is ticking for lawmakers to approve and pass a balance budget by the end of the month.  And as time goes by many state agencies fear the worse.

At least five mental health centers have closed in the last three years to four years.

Mental health expert Marvin Lindsey says mental health services could see reductions in all areas.

"Outpatient, you have residential services people in their homes will have to be evicted because there won't be no funding" says Lindsey.

Advocates are asking lawmakers to make sure mental health communities get the funding they need.

"We will invest in community based services it's important" says Josh Evans.  "We believe it's important to do that on the front end to negotiate with the governor to negotiate with the General Assembly."

Evans says the worst case scenario is seeing a lot of people that rely on the services end up in the wrong places.

"They will present in the hospital emergency rooms they will present in go into the correctional system, which is at a much higher cost."

Lawmakers have until May 31st to pass a budget.  In committee Wednesday, lawmakers approved a budget plan that's based on extending the temporary income tax increase.  A vote could be expected as early as Thursday. A senate vote is expected to follow the house.

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